Unbeknownst to some wine drinkers, there are more wineries in Texas than just in the Texas Hill Country and Fredericksburg. One of those has opened in West Texas and the Davis Mountains in the town of Marfa. Ricky Taylor used to live in Houston but started planning a vineyard in Marfa in 2016. Besides the vineyard, Ricky opened the winery Alta Marfa and became the winemaker. We are proud to feature Ricky Taylor as this month’s featured winemaker profile!
- What did you do before becoming a winemaker (if anything)?
I studied Chemical Engineering in school and then worked in an office job in Houston for eight years. I had a lot of time to think about what else I might rather be doing.
- What is the toughest challenge about being a winemaker in Texas?
I’m lucky enough to be able to buy some of the very best grapes grown in Texas, but there is still a huge shortage in Texas of well-farmed grapes. There is absolutely no reason why we can’t have organic viticulture happening here, especially in the High Plains where disease pressure is very low.
- Is winemaking an art or a science or both?
The answer to this question depends on a winemaker’s intention. Just like photography, a photographer can take photos that are art, but, certainly, not all photos are art. The same is true with wine. Making wine can certainly be an act of artistic expression, but I would say that most wine simply isn’t.
- What is your favorite food and wine pairing?
White wine and grilled shrimp.
- If you didn’t make wine, what would you do?
I would have a lot more money, have a ton of free time, and get plenty of sleep!!
- What first attracted you to winemaking and how long have you been doing it?
I also knew I wanted to work for myself, but it took a long time to figure out what direction I wanted to go in. Learning about and drinking wine is what I was doing for fun at the time, so why not try to have my cake and eat it too. I made my first wine in 2019; it was a Tempranillo Rosé that I called Lazer Cat. The fruit was from Robert Clay Vineyards in Mason.
- What is the most common question you are asked as a winemaker?
Nothing interesting comes to mind.
- After a long day in the winery or vineyard, what do you do?
Have a drink and pull weeds in the garden.
- What is your winemaking philosophy, that is, what are you trying to achieve with your wines?
My goal is to make wine that is three things:
- It is delicious
- Only I could make this particular wine
- This wine could only be made with this particular fruit in this particular place
If it’s not delicious, what’s the point, and if #2 and #3 aren’t true, I would feel that I’m wasting my time.